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Robert Shapiro (lawyer)
Born Name: Robert Leslie Shapiro
Date of Birth: September 2, 1942
Place of Birth: Plainfield, New Jersey, United States
Occupation: Attorney, entrepreneur
Spouse(s): Linell Thomas (m. 1970)
Education: Hamilton High School, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, University of California, Los Angeles
Children: Brent Shapiro, Grant Shapiro
Robert Leslie Shapiro (born September 2, 1942) is an American lawyer best known as a member of the "Dream Team" of attorneys that successfully defended O. J. Simpson in 1995, from the charges that he murdered his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, in 1994. He later turned to civil work and cofounded LegalZoom and RightCounsel.com, appearing in their television commercials.
Early life and education
Shapiro was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, to a Jewish family. He graduated from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles in 1961 and UCLA in 1965, with a B.S. in Finance. He obtained his Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School in 1968. At UCLA, he pledged the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau with his best friend, Roger Cossack.
Shapiro married Linell Thomas on March 8, 1970. They had two sons, Grant and Brent.
After his son Brent's death from a drug overdose in 2005, he founded the Brent Shapiro Foundation, a nonprofit organization with an aim to raise drug awareness, for which he serves as chairman of the board, as well as Pickford Lofts, a rehabilitation facility.
Legal practice and books about the law
Shapiro was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1969. He has represented famous athletes, most notably O. J. Simpson, Darryl Strawberry, José Canseco, and Vince Coleman. He has represented other celebrities as well, such as Johnny Carson, Christian Brando, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Linda Lovelace, the Kardashians, and F. Lee Bailey. In 1998, he sued Strawberry over unpaid legal fees; the case was eventually settled out of court.
Shapiro played a crucial role in the O. J. Simpson murder case. Already associated with Simpson, on June 17, 1994, he was present at Robert Kardashian's press conference pleading for Simpson to turn himself in to the police. According to Shapiro, Simpson's psychiatrists agreed that his letter to "friends", which Kardashian read over the air, was a suicide note. On television, Shapiro appealed to Simpson to surrender. Later that day, after the famous low-speed "Bronco chase", Simpson surrendered to the police, with Shapiro's assistance.
When the actual trial began, Shapiro led the defense team (dubbed the "Dream Team"), but later ceded lead chair to Johnnie Cochran. Despite their team's success in freeing Simpson after the verdict, Shapiro criticized his fellow Dream Team attorneys F. Lee Bailey (calling him a "loose cannon") and Cochran, for bringing race into the trial. In his book The Search for Justice: A Defense Attorney's Brief on the O.J. Simpson Case (1998), Shapiro states that he does not believe Simpson was framed by the LAPD for racial reasons but does believe the verdict was correct due to reasonable doubt. Shortly after the Simpson trial, Shapiro steered his practice away from criminal defense toward civil litigation.
Shapiro was sued by record producer Phil Spector, for refusing to return a US$1 million retainer for legal services. Spector ultimately settled the lawsuit against Shapiro for an undisclosed amount.
On April 30, 2007, Shapiro was the subject of an unpublished appellate opinion involving allegations that he had forwarded a request from his client to the client's CEO to remove $6 million in cash from the client's apartment, prior to a judge's order freezing the client's assets. In an April 30, 2007 unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal held that Shapiro's law firm, Christensen Miller Fink Jacobs Glaser Weil & Shapiro LLP, could be held liable for his alleged misconduct, even though Shapiro holds no equity interest in the firm and is not a true partner. Ultimately, Shapiro was exonerated from any wrongdoing.
Shapiro has represented Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts, actress Eva Longoria, Rob Kardashian (in the 2017 revenge porn case brought by Blac Chyna), Occidental Petroleum Corporation, Rockstar, and Diamond Resorts International. Shapiro represented the colorful Malibu psychiatrist and stem cell marketeer William C. Rader before the Medical Board of California, in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent permanent revocation of Rader's medical license.
Shapiro frequently writes about the law and has published multiple books on the subject. In 2013, The National Law Journal named him on the list of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.
Shapiro created Somo the Sober Monkey, a character in the children's book Somo Says No, which has an anti-drug theme. It is made available to schools free of charge.
Shapiro is the cofounder of LegalZoom, ShoeDazzle, and RightCounsel.com.
Portrayals in films and television
Shapiro is known as a "celebrity" lawyer and as such is a celebrity himself. He has appeared as himself (or as a lawyer resembling his real-life self) in a number of films and television series, including the film Havoc (2005).
- Bruce Weitz portrayed Shapiro in the Fox TV movie The O. J. Simpson Story (1995).
- Ron Silver portrayed Shapiro in the CBS TV mini-series American Tragedy (2000).
- John Travolta portrayed Shapiro in the FX cable TV mini-series American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson (2016).
- Himself in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn (1997)
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